Title: Dragon Food
Author: Emily Carrington
Buy Link: Buy Link Dragon Food
Genre: LGBT paranormal fantasy
Length: Novel plus (174 pdf pages)
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Whatever higher powers brought lamp genie Luke and paranormal researcher Mark together as unlikely yet star-crossed lovers, they didn’t fail to throw a wagonload of obstacles into the mix.
The Blurb: Something is hunting along the Gulf coast of Florida, and Mark Tavery is tasked with finding it. His expertise in dragons is his pride, but he can’t say the same about his romantic relationships. When he picks up a lamp during his investigation, he’s shocked at his instant attraction to, and all-consuming need for, the genie inside.
The genie, Luke, enjoying his attraction to his newest master, is intent on giving Mark nothing less than his heart’s desire. Mark’s greatest desire is to have Luke in his life and in his bed, but he refuses to acknowledge this because loving Luke means letting out the demons locked in his heart. Giving in to the promise in Luke’s words and touch means he runs the risk of killing the genie he loves.
The Review: It was the main pairing that first piqued my interest in this book. Lamp genies aren’t too commonplace in m/m fiction, after all (come to think of it, are there any other lamp genies aside from Jeannie and Walt Disney’s blue guy?) Pair them up with a modern times dragon hunter, and I was hooked, despite the slightly overdramatic blurb.
Born as a human man, Luke has been bound to his lamp for about a thousand years. Every twenty years he will be summoned to walk the earth, and until his current master or mistress has found their heart’s desire, Luke is obliged to comply with their every wish. He must follow strict rules in doing so since he’ll suffer crucial pain if he breaks them.
Luke doesn’t question his existence much. He’s quite able to make the best out of everything, living in the now and looking forward to every new summons. Little does he know that his erstwhile maker had ulterior motives in creating him: Luke is supposed to serve as some kind of magical energy storage for his maker to feed off of one day – pretty much the dragon equivalent of a muesli bar, or so it seems.
Mark Tavery is a dragon expert with SearchLight, an organisation which is there to ensure the peaceful co-existence of humans and all kinds of magical creatures, e.g. merpeople, banshees, werewolves, dragons and so on. While on an exploratory swim in the Gulf of Mexico, Mark finds and accidentally rubs Luke’s lamp, thus unwittingly summoning the genie.
Although the mutual sexual attraction between new master and genie is unmistakable from the beginning, Mark tries to deny that fact, even rejects Luke’s advances to the point of rudeness. For Mark is deeply damaged by his former lover Reese who abused him emotionally and sexually. Even though Mark managed to break free of this unhealty relationship four months ago, Reese is still present in his life – having hooked up with Mark’s co-worker and friend Dan with whom Mark shares a house. With Luke’s help, Mark removes Reese and Dan from his immediate vicinity, but the scars Reese has left with Mark are almost too powerful to overcome. On top of this, Mark carries a deep dark secret inside him that makes it unable for him to get really close to someone else from fear he might hurt his lover physically or even kill him – particularly if his lover is a genie.
Between Mark and a dragon hunting him, Luke has his work cut out for him. He is only safe from the dragon inside his lamp, but in order to get back in there, he needs to find and fulfill Mark’s happiness wish. But however hard he tries, it’s always one step forth and two steps back with Mark. And as if this wasn’t enough, Luke realizes that Mark has stopped being an assignment for him – he has, once again fallen for a master despite the fact that he had sworn to prevent this after the pain it had caused him to watch his last mortal lover, Jesse, die. And then both Mark’s and Luke’s nemesises bond, and they must face them – and their respective deepest fears – together if they want a remote chance at winning that battle.
My major problem with this book was the character of Mark Tavery. Not that I didn’t like him, he was a sympathetic character evn if I had a hard time forgiving him his lack of backbone when it comes to Reese. Mark had his reasons to surrender to Reese’s cruelty in the first place. But even considered the power he had allowed Reese to gain over him, he was too much of a doormat to Reese for too long, even more so since the solution to his problem was fairly easy to achieve in the end. I’d certainly have liked Mark better if he’d been faster to grow a pair. Also, I found the to-ing and fro-ing between him and Luke a bit overdone. In fact, Mark’s entire character struck me as blown up almost to absurde proportions with all the issues enroled in his person. And, with the revelations about him and his family toward the end, I found Mark’s initial characterization implausible – there are facts about himself which he should have been logically aware of, all self – denial notwithstanding.
On the other hand, there’s Luke, who may be a little naive, but is an inanely good person. I liked him very much – his predominantly sunny disposition brightened up this at times quite dark story. Well yes, and he’s certainly hot enough for two!
I had a few other niggles with this book, mainly with all the background info. It was woven skillfully enough into the dialogue and thoughts of the characters, in order to avoid info dump, but there was so much detail it still got obtrusive after a while. Also, the facts were revealed piece by piece over the course of the story, with new twists and details until the very end. Like with Mark’s characterization, some of the later on revealed facts stood at a slight angle to earlier info, even if they weren’t diametrically opposed. Besides, there were some details that weren’t necessary for the plot which I could have easily lived without knowing.
Yet, all in all I found this a generally nicely done and entertaining story, set apart from the “usual” fantasy through his somewhat unusual cast. This is the first book by this author I’ve read, and I wouldn’t object reading another one.